Posts Tagged ‘IRS’

Beware Fintech Firms Bearing Bitcoin –“Get rich quick” of our age?

March 5, 2018

Bloomberg

By Lionel Laurent

Banking isn’t addictive, but getting rich certainly is.
 Updated on 
Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Fintech startups have long had trouble turning feel-good rhetoric into profitable growth. Competition is intense, consumers tend to want things for free, and dinosaur banks are far from extinct. To make matters worse, finance just isn’t as addictive as messaging or catching up with friends. That counts in an era where billions are made through monetizing attention.

Red Rag To A Bitcoin Bull

Bitcoin’s recent drop has done nothing to dissuade those dreaming of 1,000% returns

Source: Bloomberg

Back in 2016, the cryptocurrency was on nobody’s strategy white-board, but it turns out all that was needed was a 15-fold price increase in as many months. Rather than try and undercut banks, or chase millennial savers’ pennies at a loss, fintech firms are now leaping at the chance to make serious cash through a technology that most banks won’t even touch. What’s more, Bitcoin has the power to take over people’s lives. One trader says it’s worse than gambling; Korea calls victims “zombies.”

Here’s a roll call of recent converts: Mobile-payments firm Square Inc. has rolled out Bitcoin trading; social-payments app Circle splashed $400 million on Poloniex, only about 15 months after it had stopped offering bitcoin trading; and money-transfer company Revolut has started offering crypto trading facilities.

Hip To Be Square

Mobile payments firm Square has enjoyed a good run, and now thinks Bitcoin trading will help extend it

Source: Bloomberg

Given that Bitcoin wasn’t always a part of the core value proposition of these businesses, it seems more than a little unsettling to see their slick marketing machines kick into gear. At Square, Jack Dorsey’s team offers a fairytale picture-book, “My First Bitcoin,” which buries all the health warnings right at the bottom. Revolut compares cryptocurrency exchanges to local farms trading “juicy” produce at the town market.

Still, if this is what customers and investors want, where’s the harm? Trading platform Coinbase booked more than $1 billion in revenue last year, according to Recode, which, if true, is more than peer-to-peer marketplace Lending Club and more than Square. On top of the money to be made from trading fees and asset-price gains, Bitcoin could also act as a lure, helping startups cross-sell their other products to a bigger audience.

The problem is that we don’t know how long this boom will go on for. Startups may end up acquiring assets that fail to create long-term value, or that destroy it. We have seen chip-makers miscalculate their ability to profit from cryptocurrency mining in the past.

There could also be reputational risks too. We don’t know how the impact of potentially widespread investor losses would affect brands that rely on fuzzy, consumer-friendly values. Banks are used to paying out billions in compensation to victims of product mis-selling. Would smaller startups survive the same treatment?

And regulators, long the scourge of the risk-hungry entrepreneur, are beginning to crack down on the sector, with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney last week calling for an end to the cryptocurrency “anarchy.” The SEC is subpoenaing Bitcoin exchanges; the IRS is collecting user information; the G20 is eyeing a global regulatory approach. If Bitcoin really does lead to “greater financial access for all,” as Dorsey puts it, it won’t be without a fight from the authorities.

Many startups will feel like they don’t have a choice but to ride the wave. Others will assume they can manage the risk. If they miscalculate, those old bank dinosaurs will have another day in the sun — and less competitive pressure to boot.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Lionel Laurent in London at llaurent2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2018-03-05/beware-fintech-startups-trying-to-get-you-on-to-bitcoin

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NYPD officers raid Newsweek headquarters

January 18, 2018

About two dozen NYPD offficers and investigators from the Manhattan district attorney’s office raided the offices of Newsweek and its parent company, IBT Media, on Thursday.

IBT Media was co-founded by Jonathan Davis and Etienne Uzac. The IRS placed a $1.2 million federal tax lien against Uzac in December 2017.

The agents were said to be photographing servers in the offices, but not downloading any files at the offices on 7 Hanover Square, according to sources.

They appeared to be photographing the serial numbers on the machines, said a source.

In the past, IBT has been linked to a Christian church founded by Korean American evangelist David Jang and Olivet University, a university in California that Jang’s followers founded.

NYPD and the IRS had not responded to a call by press time. The Manhattan DA declined to comment.

https://nypost.com/2018/01/18/nypd-officers-raid-newsweek-headquarters/

What Elites Still Don’t Understand About Populism

November 30, 2017

Commentary

According to prominent members of the progressive elite — and a few members of the conservative elite — the election of Donald Trump signaled the rise in the United States of fascism or racism or both. These sweeping smears of Trump and his supporters, which began during the primaries, backfired in 2016: They helped fuel the discontent among ordinary voters that provided the real-estate mogul’s slender margin of victory in key Rust Belt states. The elites’ intemperate condemnation of the people’s judgment bolstered the people’s dim view of the elites.

The elites’ fear, both before and after the election, that Trump was leading a fascist takeover of America has been fueled by his shoot-from-the-hip tweets and off-the-cuff public pronouncements, many of which evinced an ignorance of the rule of law and an enthusiasm for strong rulers. But hyperbole and bombast do not a fascist takeover make. Moreover, elites would be well advised to recall — or learn — that America’s sturdy constitutional constraints, starting with the separation of powers, anticipate the ascendancy of unenlightened statesmen and are designed to keep dark impulses in check. In addition, fascism rests on the acquiescence to a powerful leader of the military, business community, media, entertainment industry, and academy. Trump cannot even unify his own party around his leadership.

The accusation that Trump’s victory represented the recrudescence of a deep-seated American racism was equally scurrilous and equally implausible. Racists still exist in America and some felt emboldened by Trump to purvey their hatred. But there is no reason to suppose that if a white, male, progressive Democrat had governed in the manner of Trump’s predecessor that popular frustration would have been less robust. President Obama rammed through Congress a fundamental transformation of health care in defiance of popular will. He usurped Congress’s lawmaking powers by issuing executive orders that appropriated funds to sustain the Affordable Care Act, that imposed extensive environmental regulations, and that altered the legal status of illegal aliens. He presided over an Internal Revenue Service that methodically impeded his political opponents’ participation in the democratic process. He downplayed or dismissed voters’ anxieties about jobs, trade, and immigration while adopting measures that exacerbated them. Abroad, he coddled adversaries and alienated allies. The notion that ordinary Americans are inveterate racists because they rejected the third term for Obama governance that Hillary Clinton represented exhibits the elites’ own bigotry.

A considerably more illuminating explanation of Trump’s victory comes from understanding the power of populism. The 2016 election returns reflected a revolt of the less well-off and less influential against political elites whom they regard as arrogant and self-serving.

Populism is inherently ambiguous. It is usually wielded as a term of reproach evoking charismatic demagogues who erode liberty and democracy by pandering to the people’s base instincts and fomenting intolerance and mob violence. But liberal democracy is, by definition, popular government, resting on the consent of the governed. If elites disrespect the people, neglect the public interest, and betray founding principles, the people are not only permitted to throw the bums out but are obliged to do so.

In “Vox Populi: The Perils and Promises of Populism,” editor Roger Kimball and an all-star lineup of conservative intellectuals place the resurgence of populism in America in broader historical and intellectual context. The essays collected in the volume began as articles commissioned by Kimball in one of his several day jobs — editor and publisher of The New Criterion. Also a PJ Media columnist, art critic for National Review, and president and publisher of Encounter Books, Kimball stringently explains in the book’s introduction that the authors are united by the anxiety that “under the cloak of democratic institutions,” the “essentially undemocratic activities” of today’s administrative state advance “an expansionist agenda that threatens liberty in the most comprehensive way, by circumventing the law.” The “common aim” of their contributions is to determine the relation between the populism roiling our politics and the preservation of national sovereignty, liberty, and democratic self-government.

In a concise survey of post-World War II American conservatism that leads off the collection, historian George Nash shows that the haughtiness and incompetence of elites have been a persistent theme of right-leaning intellectuals. Meanwhile, popular resentment of elites has been building for decades, as evidenced in the emergence of the religious right in the late 1970s, the mid-’90s Newt Gingrich revolution, the Tea Party movement in 2009, and today’s Trump insurgency.

Classicist Barry Strauss elicits sober advice for contemporary populists and elites from an examination of Roman precursors to contemporary populism. “Shrewd populists will want to adjust the regime, not destroy it,” he writes. “Wise elites, for their part, will take populist movements as a wake-up call. Instead of merely denouncing populism as false consciousness, bigotry, resentment, bad manners, mental illness, peevishness, superstition, or class warfare, and instead of adopting a ‘Problems? What problems?’ attitude when faced with protests, they will inquire as to whether genuine grievances might underlie populism’s appeal.”

According to journalist and former member of the European Parliament for South East England Daniel Hannan, Brexit was an example of a populist impulse deriving from a genuine grievance. The vote to leave the European Union, Hannan approvingly argues, was populist in that it reflected “frustration with the establishment” but classically liberal in standing for a more global and free-trading Britain, and more democratic in returning to the British people greater control over their political destiny.

Several contributors focus on ideas and intellectual influences. Writer Fred Siegel traces the left-wing contempt for regular people — which stirs up the very populist energies that it deplores — to the impact on American intellectuals of German philosophical sources, especially the Frankfurt School. James Piereson, president of the William E. Simon Foundation, reconstructs the founding political thinking that fortified the Constitution against the perennial form of populism embodied in tyranny of the majority. And philosopher Roger Scruton shows that “the real question raised by the upheavals of 2016” concerns the ability of Western liberal democracies to arrest the decay of that “pre-political loyalty,” crucial to well-functioning democracies, that enables political partisans to treat electoral opponents as fellow citizens.

Lawyer and columnist Andrew McCarthy and scholar and columnist Victor Davis Hanson, my colleague at the Hoover Institution, provide masterful overviews of the 2016 campaign. McCarthy highlights the potency of the progressive populism that opposed Trump and remains a significant political force within the country while Hanson explores the complex mindset of the politically estranged working-class and middle-class voters, many of whom cast ballots for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but who in 2016 swung to Trump.

Conrad Black — a publisher, businessman, and Franklin Roosevelt biographer — sets forth a brief history of populism in America. He boldly contends that notwithstanding a penchant for demagoguery, Donald Trump’s truth-telling about elites’ smugness, folly, and ineptitude brought about “the supreme triumph of populism in American history and in the modern democratic world.” This populist triumph, in Black’s estimation, has opened “the only avenue to national renovation.” 

Agreeing with Black about our grim situation and unexpected opportunity, Roger Kimball, in a concluding essay, underscores that national renovation is bound up with the restoration of limited government that energetically safeguards the people’s liberty, promotes their interests, and advances their prosperity and security.

Such a government cannot function properly with an elite that patronizes the people. And it cannot flourish without an elite that earns the people’s respect through a disposition, in the words of James Madison in Federalist 10, “to enlarge and refine the public views.”

Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His writings are posted at PeterBerkowitz.com and he can be followed on Twitter @BerkowitzPeter.

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2017/11/27/what_elites_still_dont_understand_about_populism_135619.html

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If We Love Democracy, Why Does ‘Populism’ Get Such a Bad Rap?

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/if-we-love-democracy-why-does-populism-get-such-a-bad-rap-1511997174

20% Tax On Payments To Offshore — Multinationals Scurry to Defuse House Tax Bill’s ‘Atomic Bomb’ — “It’s a very big gorilla in the living room.”

November 7, 2017

Bloomberg

ByLynnley Browning

  • Tax writer offers changes amid range of industry complaints
  • Bill aims at offshore profit-shifters, hits many others too
Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur takes a look at the make-or-break week ahead for tax reform.

Multinational companies including Apple Inc.Pfizer Inc. and Ford Motor Co. would face a new tax on payments they make to offshore affiliates under the House Republicans’ tax bill — a surprise provision that has stunned tax experts.

The new 20 percent tax is “the atomic bomb in the draft” legislation, said Ray Beeman, co-leader of Ernst & Young’s Washington Council advisory services group. “We’re trying to get our arms around the implications.”

So far, many big U.S. companies have kept quiet on the proposal. But already, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady has tweaked the provision to lessen its impact, part of a package of changes the tax-writing panel adopted Monday night. The committee will continue debating the bill Tuesday.

 Image result for Kevin Brady, ways and means, photos
House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady

House tax writers say the proposed excise tax is aimed at preventing U.S. companies from shifting their earnings offshore to subsidiaries in tax shelters — and it moved into the spotlight this week amid a series of global investigative reports on corporate tax avoidance. But tax practitioners say the provision has far larger implications for consumer prices on a range of goods.

“It’s a very big gorilla in the living room,” said Gary Friedman, a tax partner at Debevoise & Plimpton. Tech companies, pharmaceutical makers, automakers and reinsurers are the companies most likely to be concerned, he said.

Read more: Your Guide to Following the U.S. Tax-Cut Debate

A Pfizer spokeswoman said it was premature to comment, and an Apple spokesman declined to comment. Ford did not respond to requests for comments.

The tax would apply to billions of dollars in intellectual-property royalties that technology and pharmaceutical firms make to their overseas affiliates each year — payments often linked to tax-avoidance strategies. But it would also hit U.S. companies’ imports of generic drugs, cars and other products from their affiliates. Global insurers would incur the levy on the cost of “reinsurance” they buy from foreign affiliates.

‘Trade War’ Concern

The provision, which is estimated to raise $154 billion over a decade, “could trigger a trade war,” Friedman said — stirring other countries to tax their companies’ imports from U.S. units.

For investors, the impact would appear as higher overall expenses in corporate financial statements across a range of industries — potentially depressing earnings, said Robert Willens, an independent tax and accounting expert.

For consumers, the result might be higher prices for imported goods and insurance premiums — a message that various lobbying groups have been eager to share with House tax writers.

“We expected significant feedback there, and it’s exactly what we got,” Brady told reporters Monday. He added: “Insurance is an industry where I think there are some unintended consequences from the first draft. I am re-examining those provisions to make sure we got it right.”

The Coalition for Competitive Insurance Rates, a lobbying group that includes the U.S. arms of Zurich Re, Allianz Re and Swiss Re, came out swinging after the bill appeared.

Insurers’ Complaints

In the wake of recent hurricanes that ravaged Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida, “it is unfathomable” that the bill proposes “a measure that will shrink competition in the insurance marketplace and increase the cost of insurance for consumers,” it said in a Nov. 2 statement. Large global insurers, not smaller U.S.-only ones that wouldn’t face the tax, typically insure against most major disasters.

House tax writers envisioned the 20 percent tax as a way to shore up the U.S. corporate tax base, which has been eroded for years by companies sending their earnings overseas. As part of a tax overhaul that would cut the U.S. corporate tax rate to 20 percent — down from 35 percent — the House bill would also remake the U.S. approach to international business taxation.

Unlike most other developed economies, the U.S. taxes companies on their global earnings, but it allows them to defer paying taxes on overseas earnings until they’re returned to the U.S. As a result, companies have stockpiled an estimated $3.1 trillion offshore, beyond the reach of U.S. corporate taxes.

The House bill would end that practice, apply a cut-rate tax to the stockpiled earnings and use the new excise tax to try to keep more U.S. income at home in the first place.

‘Border-Adjusted’ Redux

The excise tax would apply to many payments that U.S. based companies make to foreign affiliates — be they subsidiaries, sister companies or parent companies. That would include royalties, but also payments for inventory later sold to consumers — essentially, any payment to a foreign affiliate on which the U.S. company could take a tax deduction immediately or over time.

The tax wouldn’t apply to payments between two U.S. affiliates of the same U.S. company. And it wouldn’t apply to interest payments — another method companies use to send profit overseas that would be curbed under a separate bill proposal.

Because the tax would apply to payments for inventory, some have compared it to the controversial “border-adjusted tax,” or BAT, that House Speaker Paul Ryan proposed last year. That proposal would have placed a 20 percent tax on companies’ domestic sales and imports, while exempting their exports. Ryan gave up on the idea after retailers and others argued that it would raise consumer prices.

“Our concern is that the tax ends up getting passed on to consumers and winds up being a consumption tax, similar to the border-adjustment tax,” said Levi Russell, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch that also opposed the BAT.

International Automakers

Here for America, a lobbying coalition of international automakers including Honda, Toyota and Volvo, all with manufacturing, R&D and sales operations throughout the U.S., said in a Nov. 5 statement that the tax was “discriminatory” against global companies. The current tax bill, it said, “is flawed and disadvantages companies that are a backbone of American manufacturing and job creation.”

The bill does contain an escape hatch, of sorts — a way for companies to cut the amounts they’d pay under the excise tax.

Companies can either pay the 20 percent excise tax on the payments they make to an overseas affiliate — or they can make the affiliate itself subject to a tax on its net profit.

Choosing the second option might be more beneficial for most companies, tax experts said, because most U.S. companies pay their foreign affiliates a premium — a price that includes profit.

Consider a case in which the U.S. company pays its foreign affiliate $100 for a particular good. If it chooses to pay the excise tax on the payment, that’s a tax bill of $20.

But let’s say it costs the affiliate $60 to produce the good in question. Its profit would be $40, and its tax would be just $8. The company could cut its potential tax bill in half — but there’d be a different kind of price to pay: It would have to disclose more to investors — and therefore, perhaps, to competitors — about its profits on particular product lines.

Currently, companies tend to make such disclosures on broad segments of the products they offer, not particular lines. “This bill allows the IRS to define what a product line is,” said Seth Green, a principal in KPMG’s Washington National Tax practice.

Choosing the extra disclosure and the lower tax bill is the better option, said Michael Mundaca, co-director of Ernst & Young’s National Tax practice — even if it does subject foreign affiliates to more scrutiny from the IRS.

“Neither choice is good,” he said, “but the second one is better, even with increased reporting.”

— With assistance by Colleen Murphy

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-07/multinationals-scurry-to-defuse-house-tax-bill-s-atomic-bomb

American Government: What is the “deep state”?

March 10, 2017

The Economist

And where does it come from?

THE Trump era is reshaping not just American politics but also its lexicon. Terms such as “fake news”, “alt-right” and “post-truth” have entered mainstream use, and kicked up debates about what they actually mean in the process. “Deep state” is the latest to gain attention, as leaks from inside the administration frustrate Donald Trump’s supporters. Right-wing websites such as Breitbart News warn of a “deep state” that wants to “terminate” Mr Trump. Some extreme sites talk of a “war” between the deep state and the president. “If it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state,” Bill Kristol, a conservative critic of Mr Trump, recently tweeted. But what does the term actually refer to?

No automatic alt text available.

American pundits have often used “deep state” interchangeably with the bureaucracies of the military and spy agencies, especially those bits that leak against the government. Mr Trump’s relations with his spies have been tense since the intelligence community determined that Russia had tried to influence the election in his favour. He has publicly challenged their assessments of his team’s ties with Russia, chastised them for past intelligence failures and compared leaks against him to practices in Nazi Germany. His supporters cite “deep-state” leaks embarrassing to Mr Trump’s administration as evidence of a shadowy network of unelected government officials undermining the president. (The president has not publicly used the term.)

But the deep state started life as something else entirely. Citizens in Turkey, where the term originated, have long worried about the derin devlet (“deep state”), which refers to a network of individuals in different branches of government, with links to retired generals and organised crime, that existed without the knowledge of high-ranking military officers and politicians. Its goal was purportedly to preserve secularism and destroy communism by any means necessary, outside the regular chain of command. Starting in the 1950s Turkey’s deep state sponsored killings, engineered riots, colluded with drug traffickers, staged “false flag” attacks and organised massacres of trade unionists. Thousands died in the chaos it fomented.

In its present avatar, “deep state” seems set to go the way of “fake news” in American discourse, a once-useful term rendered meaningless by promiscuous repetition, often in reference to quite different things. Turkey is a pioneer here too. After a handful of city councils in Germany recently cancelled rallies in support for Mr Erdogan, Turkey’s foreign minister offered a simple explanation: “This is a systematic move of the German deep state.”

http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2017/03/economist-explains-6

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How Trump can use Obamacare to kill Obamacare

January 22, 2017

Politico

The same executive authority the Obama administration used to implement the law may now be used to dismantle it.

01/22/17 07:08 AM EST

170121-Donald-Trump-AP_17020718005303.jpg

President Donald Trump’s order doesn’t confer any new powers on the executive branch. | AP Photo

Conservatives who railed against Barack Obama’s vast powers to build up the Affordable Care Act declared vindication Saturday with President Donald Trump’s executive order to tear it apart.

“For me, it’s a mix of irony and schadenfreude,” says Josh Blackman, a law professor who’s written two books that criticized the Obama administration’s implementation of the law. “I’ve warned for years that, with a new president in the White House, the exact same powers could be used for different purposes. That’s what we’re seeing now, to a T.”

 Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

Trump’s order, which encourages Health and Human Services, the IRS and other agencies to work toward dismantling the ACA, doesn’t confer any new powers on the executive branch. But Trump explicitly instructs his agencies to use their existing powers to weaken the law “to the maximum extent permitted by law,” regardless of Congressional action to repeal it.

That could be devastating to Obamacare because the administration relied on its executive authority to set up the law.

“Its implementation depended critically — and depends critically — on rules and guidance that HHS and other agencies have put out,” says Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor who supports the ACA. “There are literally thousands of decisions that had to be made” by the administration — and “any decision that the Obama administration had the discretion to make, in principle, the Trump administration can revisit.”

A big complex law always requires a lot of the details to be filled in through regulation, but that was particularly true of Obamacare. The version that squeaked through the Senate in December 2009 wasn’t meant to be final; the bill’s authors’ expected to work with the House to smooth language out for a final version.

But when Republican Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat long held by Teddy Kennedy, the Senate Democrats lost their supermajority – and their chance to work out the kinks. That left a lot more for HHS and other federal agencies to fill in – which is coming back to bite defenders of the law now.

Many of the law’s most controversial elements, like which Americans would be exempt from the mandate requiring most Americans to purchase insurance coverage, were administration decisions. Obama’s HHS secretary was also empowered to flesh out the important details about the benefits that Obamacare insurance plans were required to cover, from mental health to maternity care. Even Healthcare.gov — the much-maligned website that turned into the linchpin of Obamacare enrollment efforts — was built out through executive authority.

The vast, and at times, legally questionable decisions undertaken by the Obama administration may also set precedent for the Trump administration to do the exact same thing. Both Blackman and Bagley agree the administration’s 2013 decision to delay Obamacare’s employer mandate was unlawful; House Republicans even sued, although their challenge was thrown out in court. Trump could now cite that delay as precedent for declining to enforce provisions that he dislikes.

The Trump administration could also issue a slew of waivers to exempt Americans from the ACA’s individual mandate – although the Obama administration already broadened those exemptions in 2013, after the political outcry from Americans whose plans were canceled because they didn’t meet Obamacare criteria.

The “‘like it, keep it’ fiasco” set a precedent for Trump too, says Bagley.

At the time, the administration said it would give hardship waivers to Americans who had difficulties paying for coverage under the ACA. But “if you define the hardship as that, then every American is facing higher premiums because of the ACA, one way or another,” says Blackman. “Obamacare is itself the hardship.”

House Republicans also sued and won an initial ruling over the Obama administration’s payments to subsidize health care costs such as co-pays and deductibles for Obamacare enrollees under a certain income level. A federal court agreed the funds were illegally appropriated; the Obama administration appealed that decision. But Trump could discontinue the appeal, and hold that over Democrats in negotiations to replace the law: If he chooses to discontinue those payments, health insurers — which would be on the hook for those payments even if the government funding dried up — would probably flee the markets or jack up prices next year. Millions of ACA customers would likely see their premiums spike and their plans become unaffordable.

“If Trump were to stop the cost-sharing payments, he could send the individual insurance markets into an immediate tailspin,” says Bagley. “It would be an extraordinary hit.”

The Trump administration could also act quickly and issue less-dramatic guidance that maintains pieces of Obamacare but allows tweaks to make them more conservative.

The executive order issued by Trump just hours after his inauguration calls for giving states more power to shape health programs, and several Republican-led states have wanted to expand Medicaid but only if they could impose new restrictions, like requiring able-bodied beneficiaries to show that they were working or seeking employment, or to pay small premiums. The Obama administration had opposed these provisions, warning they would shift new costs onto the low-income Americans the program was meant to help.

Read the rest:

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/trump-obamacare-233983

American Voters Rejected Obama, His Legacy, Hillary Clinton, Corrupt Government, “The Narrative” and Liberal Media

November 13, 2016

Peace and Freedom Commentary

There is no American intelligentsia. And there are no deplorable Americans.

America is a nation of rule of law, democracy, and fairness to all under the law.

There is no privileged class and there are no “second class citizens.”

Everyone is subject to the law: immigrants and presidential candidates alike.

Presidential politics is about everyone. It is not about just women. It is not about just gays. It is about a great country that is good for all Americans.

The big media has always been a part of safeguarding America from corruption and liars and wrongdoing in public office.

How come The New York Times and The Washington Post decided to constantly side with the Obama-Hillary Team? How come Wikileaks was the one to show America what John Podesta and the other Hillary staffers where doing and saying?

Even after Hillary Clinton provided foreign intelligence services (illegally) a treasure trove of unencrypted classified information, the Clinton campaign han no cyber-security for the emails of Podesta and the others? Really? This is not the fault of Julian Assange. This is the trouble with imbecile Democrats. And we are supposed to trust them to run the nation?

After being preached at for years about “tolerance” by people like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the hypocrisy of it all became too much to bear. The voters just could not choke down one more morsel without gagging.

It started with the lies: You can keep your doctor. Benghazi was about a video. Stick to “The Narrative.” Constantly preaching hope — but never delivering.

Anyone in the blighted inner city of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC and other American cities can tell us — not having a vibrant economy that produces jobs, income and wealth is a disaster. Jobs, income and wealth — and the dignity and pride that goes with them — cannot be replaced by government. Especially an ever-growing and corrupt government. A government that provides burdens and restrictions to business — not incentives.

A government that became obviously corrupt.

Does anyone still belive the Justice Department is not corrupt — or at least blatantly biased? Does anyone still believe that there was not a “smidgen of corruption” (to quote the President of the United States) at the IRS? Despite some progress, any visitor to the local V.A. hospital can tell us — there is still a lot that goes wrong there. And why can’t we privatize it?  And are we better off because of Obamacare? Nope.

We still don’t know the truth about Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Was she hiding illegal activity? Almost certainly. We used to say in journalism, “Follow the money.” The New York Times should have figured this out by now but they are no longer interested in truth — just “the narrative.”

They didn’t want to find criminal activity that might harm their sacred cow. They couldn’t fathom letting go of the narrative once the truth came out.

Well, the narrative just got rejected by the deplorable voters who still have some insight and wisdom and sources of information better than that provided by the “Mainstream Media.”

The “JV Team” can now maybe be called the Islamic State terrorists?

The upper tax rate for American businesses in the U.S. is 30%. In Ireland it is 12%. But President Obama and Hillary Clinton constantly smeared American business leaders who sent jobs overseas as un-patriotic. Guys like Harry Reid kept offering to punish them with more costs — the very reason they left the hostile-to-business government at home.

The facts kept getting on the way of the “narrative.”

Why did President Obama become the president of regulations and executive orders? He blamed the Congress — the elected body established by the Constitution — the Law — to prevent the kind of eight year train wreck America just witnessed. After lying to achieve “his signature legislative accomplishment” he decided to circumvent as much as he could in Congress. They didn’t like the lies, the manipulation of the facts and the tidal wave of debt that kept growing.

He could not face the accountability our system of government imposes. Our system of government demands. No real accountability for the many screw ups at State, Justice, EPA, IRS, V.A. We could go on.

So the voters had to insist on accountability. The options weren’t pretty. Some would say the options were pretty aweful. But the voters decided one was worse than the other.

Hillary failed the accountability test over and over and over. Now she is blaming the FBI and the media for her failures — like an arsonist blaming the match.

We want to yell out at her the way she’s been shrieking at us: “IT’S NOT THEM. IT’S YOU THAT IS THE PROBLEM.”

If you did the crime, you should do the time.

But that didn’t fit the narrative.

President Obama told us he would be insulted if we did not continue his legacy. His government. The no jobs, corrupt government, high-cost Obamacare we did not need government. The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen government with an uncertain vision of the future. Refugrees and migrants in swarms not seen since World War II. With an uncertain U.S. strategy even today — in almost every part of the world.

The government that refused to enforce immigration laws.

Hey, Mister President, Consider Yourself Insulted.

Related:

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American intelligentsia?

As such, the intelligentsia might include artists, school teachers, academics, writers, journalists, and other hommes de lettres (men of letters). Historians debate the political role of the intelligentsia as a progressive influence and as a regressive influence upon the development of modern societies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligentsia

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Obama’s Policies and Broader Vision Face Reckoning With History

As he raced across the country before the election, President Obama warned supporters about the stakes. “All the progress we’ve made over these last eight years,” he said, “goes out the window if we don’t win this election.”

Hillary Clinton, his anointed successor, did not win, and so now Mr. Obama will find out whether his prediction was just campaign hyperbole or if his legacy really has just gone out the window. Not only are specific initiatives like his health care and climate change programs at risk, but so, too, is the broader vision Mr. Obama articulated for America.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/13/us/politics/obama-legacy-donald-trump.html

Hillary’s State Department Assist

October 19, 2016

The email classification fight was not about routine procedures.

Updated Oct. 19, 2016 9:26 a.m. ET

The Wall Street Journal

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State Department’s Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy
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If the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server has shown anything, it’s that the Clintons have many helpers in Washington. This includes the State Department, where even the civil servants have tried to protect their former boss.

The latest FBI document release on Monday contains interviews with officials revealing that in spring 2015 Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy contacted an FBI official to coax the FBI to downgrade from classified to unclassified a Benghazi-related email that had sat on Mrs. Clinton’s server. At the time Mrs. Clinton was still insisting she’d never transmitted classified information.

The headlines have focused on whether the Kennedy request to FBI official Brian McCauley was a quid pro quo: an offer that State would allow the FBI to place more agents in foreign countries, in exchange for downgrading the document. There is a dispute in the FBI interview notes over whether this was proposed by Mr. Kennedy or by Mr. McCauley, and both State and FBI deny an explicit tit for tat, as do Mr. Kennedy and Mr. McCauley. The FBI also did not downgrade the document. Yet even the FBI concedes it referred the “allegations” to “appropriate officials for review,” which makes the episode ripe for Congressional investigation.

Even without a quid quo pro, the episode shows that the State Department has been assisting the Clinton campaign. Especially notable is evidence that Mr. Kennedy knew the FBI had grounds for classifying the document. According to the McCauley interview notes, Mr. Kennedy called asking for the downgrade, explaining that the email “caused problems” for him.

Mr. Kennedy proposed that rather than mark the email classified, he’d give it a special exemption from Freedom of Information Act requests, which would allow him “to archive the document in the basement of [State] never to be seen again.” Mr. Kennedy seemed to agree that the email was too sensitive for public consumption but wanted to spare Mrs. Clinton the classified reality.

Mr. Kennedy waged a sustained campaign to get Mrs. Clinton off the classification hook. One unnamed official claims Mr. Kennedy followed up his telephone request with a private meeting in which he again asked if the FBI would “see their way to marking the email unclassified.” He also, according to the notes, went directly to Michael Steinbach,the assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, to press his case.

Meanwhile, an unnamed State Department employee who worked in the group tasked with handling FOIA requests and reviewing nearly 300 Benghazi-related emails, reported that senior State officials, including Mr. Kennedy, put the team under “immense pressure to complete the review quickly and to not label anything as classified.”

This employee also reported that the group was made to work with officials at the Justice Department, the Defense Department and the White House Counsel’s office who were not their “normal” points of contact.

The employee also noted that the process was dictated by what State employees referred to as the “Shadow Government,” a “powerful group of very high-ranking STATE officials” who met every Wednesday to deal with “everything CLINTON-related.”

The group included State lawyers Catherine Duval and Austin Evers, who previously worked for Williams & Connolly—the law firm of Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall.Ms. Duval was last in the spotlight when she was at the IRS, stymieing Congressional attempts to obtain emails related to the abusive targeting of conservative nonprofits.

Democrats claim this is all nothing more than State employees engaging in the usual “interagency dispute” over classification—which has been Mrs. Clinton’s defense from the start. But there is nothing usual about the State department calling in “shadow” lawyers to handle emails, intimidating FOIA staff or proposing deals with FBI officials to deep-six documents in State basements. These are the actions of bureaucrats and political appointees seeking to hide from the public the mishandling of sensitive information by the Democratic nominee for President.

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Speaking of the White House, the latest WikiLeaks release contains an email from Clinton aide Phillipe Reines to campaign staffers in March 2015. Mr. Reines is responding to a New York Times headline, “Obama Says He Didn’t Know Hillary Clinton Was Using Private Email Address.” “One of us should connect with the WH just so they know that the email will show his statement to not make sense,” he wrote.

This is the latest evidence that Mr. Obama was aware of, and corresponded with, Mrs. Clinton on her private email server. Notes of an FBI interview with Huma Abedindescribe how the Clinton aide was shown an email that the FBI suggests came to Mrs. Clinton under a pseudonym used by Mr. Obama, and she exclaims, “How is this not classified?” She then asks for a copy of the email.

The American public still doesn’t know who knew about Mrs. Clinton’s server, who misused it and how much that put the nation’s secrets at risk. We do know that many Obama officials and bureaucrats have been dedicated to making sure the public never gets those answers.

 

http://www.wsj.com/articles/hillarys-state-assist-1476832442

Trump Needs Your Vote: Or America Decides To Not Get Better — Hillary is unfit for the presidency

October 18, 2016

By VICTOR DAVIS HANSON
October 17, 2016

Conservatives should vote for the Republican nominee.

Donald Trump needs a unified Republican party in the homestretch if he is to have any chance left of catching Hillary Clinton — along with winning higher percentages of the college-educated and women than currently support him. But even before the latest revelations from an eleven-year-old Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump crudely talked about women, he had long ago in the primaries gratuitously insulted his more moderate rivals and their supporters.

He bragged about his lone-wolf candidacy and claimed that his polls were — and would be — always tremendous — contrary to his present deprecation of them. Is it all that surprising that some in his party and some independents, who felt offended, swear that they will not stoop to vote for him when in extremis he now needs them? Or that party stalwarts protest that they no longer wish to be associated with a malodorous albatross hung around their neck? That question of payback gains importance if the race in the last weeks once again narrows.

Trump had by mid September recaptured many of the constituencies that once put John McCain and Mitt Romney within striking distance of Barack Obama. And because Trump has apparently brought back to the Republican cause millions of the old Reagan Democrats, various tea-partiers, and the working classes, and since Hillary Clinton is a far weaker candidate than was Barack Obama, in theory he should have had a better shot to win the popular vote than has any Republican candidate since incumbent president George W. Bush in 2004.

What has always been missing to end the long public career of Hillary Clinton is a four- or five-percentage-point boost from a mélange of the so-called Never Trump Republicans, as well as women and suburban, college-educated independents. Winning back some of these critics could translate into a one- or two-point lead over Clinton in critical swing states. Those who are soured on Trump certainly can cite lots of understandable reasons for their distaste — well beyond his sometimes grating reality-television personality.

In over-dramatic fashion, some Against Trumpers invoke William F. Buckley Jr.’s ostracism of John Birchers from conservative circles as a model for dealing with perceived Trump vulgarity. He is damned as an opportunistic chameleon, not a true conservative. Trump’s personal and professional life has been lurid — as, again, we were reminded by the media-inspired release of a hot-mic tape of past Trump crude sexual braggadocio. The long campaigning has confirmed Trump as often uncouth — insensitive to women and minorities.

He has never held office. His ignorance of politics often embarrasses those in foreign- and domestic-policy circles. Trump’s temperament is mercurial, especially in its ego-driven obsessions with slights to his business ethics and acumen. He wins back supporters by temporary bouts of steadiness as his polls surge, only to alienate them again with crazy nocturnal tweets and off-topic rants — as his popularity then again dips. He seems to battle as much with GOP stalwarts as Clintonites, often, to be fair, in retaliation rather than in preemptory fashion.

 

All these flaws earned Trump nemesis in his disastrous first debate, which was followed by marked dips in his polls. He seemed not to have prepared for the contest, convinced that he could wing it with his accustomed superlative adjectives and repetitive make-America-great generalities. He so obsessed over Clinton’s baited traps and contrived slights about his commercial reputation and his temperament that he allowed her to denigrate his character with impunity — even as he missed multiple opportunities to chronicle her spiraling scandals and contrast his mostly conservative agenda with her boilerplate, Obama 2.0, “you didn’t build that” neo-socialism.

Trump’s second debate performance was far stronger, and stanched his hemorrhaging after the Access Hollywood revelations, but it was not the blow-out needed to recapture the lost momentum of mid September — nor will it yet win over Never Trump Republicans and independent women. The counterarguments for voting Trump are by now also well known. The daily news — riot, terrorism, scandals, enemies on the move abroad, sluggish growth, and record debt — demands a candidate of change.

The vote is not for purity of conservative thought, but for the candidate who is preferable to the alternative — and is also a somewhat rough form of adherence to the pragmatic Buckley dictate to prefer the most conservative candidate who can win. The issue, then, at this late date is not necessarily Trump per se, but the fact that he will bring into power far more conservatives than would Hillary Clinton.

No one has made a successful argument to challenge that reality. Nor is the election a choice even between four more years of liberalism and a return of conservatism; it’s an effort to halt the fundamental transformation of the country.

A likely two-term Clinton presidency would complete a 16-year institutionalization of serial progressive abuse of the Constitution, outdoing even the twelve years of the imperial Roosevelt administration. The WikiLeaks revelations suggest an emboldened Hillary Clinton, who feels that a 2016 victory will reify her utopian dreams of a new intercontinental America of open borders and open markets, from Chile to Alaska, in the manner of the European Union expanse from the Aegean to the Baltic.

Conservatives who sit out the election de facto vote for Clinton, in the manner that Sanders’s liberal supporters, should they stay home, become votes for Trump. Oddly, renegade Democrats seem more eager to return to their fold than do their louder Republican counterparts. The idealist Bernie Sanders is not nearly as bothered by WikiLeaks and other hacked revelations of how Hillary Clinton sabotaged his campaign, cozied up to big banks, and admitted to talking progressively while in reality serving Wall Street, as are Republicans by Trump’s potty mouth. Yet in a veritable two-person race, the idea of expressing positive neutrality, to paraphrase the Indian statesman V. K. Krishna Menon, is to suppose that tigers can be vegetarians. The tu quoque argument suggests that Trump’s rhetorical excesses — media obsessions aside — are unfortunately not all that different from those of Obama and Hillary about the “clingers” and the “deplorables.”

Name a Trump cruelty or idiocy — unfamiliarity with the political discourse, ethnic insensitivity, cluelessness about the world abroad — and parallels abound, from Obama’s mispronunciation of “corpsman” as “corpse-man,” his mocking of the Special Olympics, and his remark about “punish[ing] our enemies” to Hillary’s statement that believing David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker required a “suspension of disbelief,” her “what difference does it make?” glibness about the Benghazi attack, and her past pandering to “white Americans.”

And these Democrats’ frauds — from the Tony Rezko sweetheart lot deal with Obama to Hillary’s $100,000 profiteering in cattle futures — are even more banal grifting than Trump steaks and Trump vodka. Had anyone else in government set up a private e-mail server, sent and received classified information on it, deleted over 30,000 e-mails, ordered subordinates to circumvent court and congressional orders to produce documents, and serially and publicly lied to the American people about the scandal, that person would surely be in jail.

The Clinton Foundation is like no other president-sponsored nonprofit enterprise in recent memory — offering a clearing house for Clinton-family jet travel and sinecures for Clintonite operatives between Clinton elections. Hillary Clinton allotted chunks of her time as secretary of state to the largest Clinton Foundation donors. Almost every assistant whom she has suborned has taken the Fifth Amendment, in Lois Lerner fashion. The problems with Trump University are dwarfed by for-profit Laureate University, whose “Chancellor,” Bill Clinton, garnered $17.6 million in fees from the college and its affiliates over five years — often by cementing the often financially troubled international enterprise’s relationship with Hillary Clinton’s State Department.

Collate what Hillary Clinton in the past has said about victims of Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual assaults, or reread some of the racier sections of Dreams From My Father, and it is hard to argue that Trump is beyond the pale in terms of contemporary culture. Trump’s defeat would translate into continued political subversion of once disinterested federal agencies, from the FBI and Justice Department to the IRS and the EPA. It would ensure a liberal Supreme Court for the next 20 years — or more. Republicans would be lucky to hold the Senate. Obama’s unconstitutional executive overreach would be the model for Hillary’s second wave of pen-and-phone executive orders.

If, in Obama fashion, the debt doubled again in eight years, we would be in hock $40 trillion after paying for Hillary’s even more grandiose entitlements of free college tuition, student-loan debt relief, and open borders. She has already talked of upping income and estate taxes on those far less wealthy than the Clintons and of putting coal miners out of work (“We are going to put a whole lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business”) while promising more Solyndra-like ventures in failed crony capitalism. We worry about what Citizen Trump did in the past in the private sector and fret more over what he might do as commander-in-chief. But these legitimate anxieties remain in the subjunctive mood; they are not facts in the indicative gleaned from Clinton’s long public record. As voters, we can only compare the respective Clinton and Trump published agendas on illegal immigration, taxes, regulation, defense spending, the Affordable Care Act, abortion, and other social issues to conclude that Trump’s platform is the far more conservative — and a rebuke of the last eight years. There is a reason the politicized media — from biased debate moderators to New York Times reporters who seek to pass muster in the Clinton team’s eyes before publishing their puff pieces — have gone haywire over Trump.

Contrary to popular anger against them, Never Trump conservative op-ed writers and wayward Republican insiders do not have much direct influence in keeping Trump’s party support down. Indeed, even after the latest gaffes, it creeps back up even as he is alienating women and the suburbs. The problem is more nuanced. Never Trump conservative grandees help flesh out the Clinton narrative of a toxic Trump that is then translated through ads, quotes, and sound bites to more numerous fence-sitting independents and women: Why should they vote for a purported extremist whom even the notables of the conservative movement and Republican party cannot stomach?

In an election with flawed candidates, balance is a legitimate question: Why didn’t The New Republic or the Huffington Post run an “Against Clinton” special issue? Certainly, she was dishonest enough to warrant such opprobrium from among a few of her own — given her prior treatment of Bill Clinton’s likely victims of sexual assault.

Her endangerment of national security through use of her private server, the utter corruption of the Clinton Foundation and indeed the office of secretary of state, and her serial lies, from claiming to have braved sniper fire in Bosnia to misleading the families of the Benghazi fallen amid the caskets of their dead, make her unfit for the presidency.

In this low-bar presidential race, why do conservative establishmentarians and past foreign-policy officials feel a need to publish their support for the Democratic candidate, when their liberal counterparts feel no such urge to distance themselves from their own nominee? Is what Clinton actually did, in leaving Iraq abruptly, or lying about Benghazi, or violating federal security laws, so much less alarming than what Trump might do in shaking up NATO or “bombing the hell out of ISIS”?

Trump’s platform is the far more conservative — and a rebuke of the last eight years. Have such conservative self-auditing and Marquess of Queensberry restraint paid dividends in the past? Would it have been worth it for John McCain to go after Obama’s personal mentor and pastor, the racist, anti-American, and anti-Semitic Reverend Jeremiah Wright, in 2008, to preempt an agenda that led to the passage of the Affordable Care Act? Or, in the second presidential debate of 2012, should Romney have, in Reaganesque fashion, grabbed the hijacked mic back from the moderator and “fact-checker”

Candy Crowley, if that dramatic act might have meant his election would have warded off the looming Iran deal? Was losing nobly in 2008 and 2012 preferable to winning ugly with Lee Atwater in 1988? All the Republican primary candidates, in fear of a third-party Trump bid, swore an oath to support the nominee. When Jeb Bush or Carly Fiorina, even if for understandable reasons, broke that promise, they reinforced the unspoken admission that the Republican field — despite impressive résumés — operated on politics-as-usual principles. Trump won not only fair and square but also with a larger aggregate vote than any prior Republican nominee.

Moreover, the Trump constituencies for the most part loyally voted in 2008 and 2012 for Republican moderates who they presciently feared were malleable on many conservative issues and who they rightly guessed would probably lose.

Trumpism was no fluke. During the primaries, a solid conservative governor, Scott Walker, at times seemed a deer in the headlights on illegal immigration. A charismatic Marco Rubio fell into robotic recitations of boilerplate. A decent Jeb Bush’s characterization of illegal immigration as “an act of love” was no gaffe but seemed a window into his own privilege. Multi-talented Ted Cruz convinced few that he was the elder Cato. Rand Paul reminded us why we would not vote for Ron Paul.

Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry demonstrated how successful governors might not inspire the country. Chris Christie played the bully boy one too many times. The inspired outsiders, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson, never quite got beyond being inspired outsiders.

Campaigning is like war: It often involves a tragic correction to early mistaken appraisals of relative strength and weakness formed in calmer times. Casualties pile up to prove what should have been known but went unrecognized before blows fell: in this case, that in his energetic harnessing of popular anger, Trump, my own least favorite in the field, was the more effective candidate in gauging the mood of the times. These are all valid rejoinders to those who say that recalcitrant conservatives, independents, and women should not hold their nose and vote for Trump.

But they are not the chief considerations in his favor. Something has gone terribly wrong with the Republican party, and it has nothing to do with the flaws of Donald Trump. Something like his tone and message would have to be invented if he did not exist. None of the other 16 primary candidates — the great majority of whom had far greater political expertise, more even temperaments, and more knowledge of issues than did Trump — shared Trump’s sense of outrage — or his ability to convey it — over what was wrong: The lives and concerns of the Republican establishment in the media and government no longer resembled those of half their supporters. The Beltway establishment grew more concerned about their sinecures in government and the media than about showing urgency in stopping Obamaism. When the Voz de Aztlan and the Wall Street Journal often share the same position on illegal immigration, or when Republicans of the Gang of Eight are as likely as their left-wing associates to disparage those who want federal immigration law enforced, the proverbial conservative masses feel they have lost their representation.

How, under a supposedly obstructive, conservative-controlled House and Senate, did we reach $20 trillion in debt, institutionalize sanctuary cities, and put ourselves on track to a Navy of World War I size? Compared with all that, “making Mexico pay” for the wall does not seem all that radical. Under a Trump presidency the owner of Univision would not be stealthily writing, as he did to Team Clinton, to press harder for open borders — and thus the continuance of a permanent and profitable viewership of non-English speakers.

Trump’s outrageousness was not really new; it was more a 360-degree mirror of an already outrageous politics as usual. One does not need lectures about conservatism from Edmund Burke when, at the neighborhood school, English becomes a second language, or when one is rammed by a hit-and-run driver illegally in the United States who flees the scene of the accident. Do our elites ever enter their offices to find their opinion-journalism jobs outsourced at half the cost to writers in India?

Are congressional staffers told to move to Alabama, where it is cheaper to telecommunicate their business? Trump’s outrageousness was not really new; it was more a 360-degree mirror of an already outrageous politics as usual.

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell  did make a good case that they had stopped some of the Obama agenda and could not have halted more, given that Republicans did not have the White House and Obama often exceeded his constitutional mandates. But they hardly provided emotional energy and vehement opposition — the thumos that galvanizes others to do things deemed improbable. Tea-party rallying cries to stop Obamacare, to stop piling up trillions in new debt, to stop slashing the military, and to stop disparaging working-class Americans mostly in favor of preferred racial, class, or gender groups were not inspired by the Republican elite.

The WikiLeaks peek into the Clinton-Obama media Borg reveals an insidious corruption in which it is hard to distinguish between campaign officials, network-journalist grandees, and top-level bureaucrats. Colin Powell’s pathetic hacked e-mails might suggest that such insidiousness is not just confined to liberals and progressives. “Creative destruction” and “job mobility” are favorite — and often correct — nostrums for the unfortunate downsides of otherwise wealth-creating, unfettered trade. The more foreign products undercut our own, in theory, the more we are forced to tone up, put the right workers into the right places for the right reasons, and become ever more productive and competitive.

 

The problem, however, is that a displaced real person, unemployed and living with his 80-year-old grandmother in a financially underwater and unsellable home, cannot easily move to the North Dakota fracking fields, any more than the destruction of an 80-acre small-farming operation owing to foreign agricultural subsidies is in any way “creative.” What we needed from our conservative elites and moderates was not necessarily less free-market economics, but fair in addition to free trade — and at least some compassion and sensitivity in recognizing that their bromides usually applied to others rather than to themselves and the political class of both parties. When Trump shoots off his blunderbuss, is it always proof of laziness and ignorance, or is it sometimes generally aimed in the right direction to prompt anxiety and eventual necessary reconsideration?

Questioning NATO’s pro forma way of doing business led to furor, but also to renewed promises from NATO allies to fight terror, pony up defense funds, and coordinate more effectively. Deploring unfair trade deals suddenly made Hillary Clinton renounce her prior zealous support of the “gold standard” Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.

Wondering whether some of our Asian allies might someday build nuclear weapons galvanized Japan and South Korea to step up and warn North Korea against further aggressive acts, in a new fashion. In Europe, Trump is said to be unpredictable and volatile. But since when are predictability and serenity always advantages in global poker?

A President Trump might shake up U.S. foreign policy in controversial and not always polite ways. In far calmer fashion, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton already has revolutionized America’s role overseas — from the Iraq pullout to the foundations of the Iran deal to lead-from-behind Libyan bombing to tiptoeing around “violent extremism” and “workplace violence” to empowering Chinese expansionism to increasing distance from allies and proximity to enemies.

Obama reminded us that approval from abroad is usually synonymous with thanks for weakening America and making us more like them than them us. Should we be more terrified that the socialist and largely pacifist European Union is afraid of Trump, or that it welcomes even more of Barack Obama’s type of leadership? Is not the present course of projecting weakness while insulting Vladimir Putin — the Russian reset of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama — the inverse of speaking softly while carrying a big stick?

The ancient idea of tragic irony can sometimes be described as an outcome unfortunately contrary to what should have been expected. Many of us did not vote in the primaries for Trump, because we did not believe that he was sufficiently conservative or, given his polarizing demeanor, that he could win the presidency even if he were. The irony is now upon us that Trump may have been the most conservative Republican candidate who still could beat Hillary Clinton — and that if he were to win, he might usher in the most conservative Congress, presidency, and Supreme Court in nearly a century.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals. You can reach him by e-mailing authorvdh@gmail.com. A Version of this article appeared in the October 24, 2016, issue of National Review.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/441126/donald-trump-conservatives-should-vote-president

Trump Says Hillary Clinton, Many U.S. Elected Officials Are Corrupt

October 12, 2016

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Donald Trump is kicking off a rally in Panama City, Florida, by alleging that hacked Clinton campaign documents show that Hillary Clinton “is the vessel (of) a corrupt global establishment that’s raiding our country and surrendering the sovereignty of our nation.”

He’s praising Wikileaks for releasing the documents and providing voters a “window” into “the secret corridors of government power.”

Trump is also repeating his threat to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton’s use of a private email system during her tenure as secretary of state. The Justice Department investigated and in July did not recommend criminal charges against Clinton.

Trump says, “We have to investigate Hillary Clinton and we have to investigate the investigation.”

Read more:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-trump-panama-city-rally-20161011-story.html

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What the WikiLeaks Emails Say About Clinton

Conservatives will see corruption and liberals will see corporatism and expedience, but the exchanges simply expose the candidate that’s been there all along.

“There is no other Donald Trump,” Hillary Clinton likes to say about her opponent. “This is it.”

The events of the last two weeks—Trump’s two debate performances, the release of his bawdy comments about women in a 2005 video clip, his lashing out against Republicans who are deserting him—have proven Clinton correct on that count.

But the leak of thousands of hacked email exchanges among Clinton’s top advisers suggest the same can be said about her—at least in her role as a public figure. They capture a candidate, and a campaign, that seems in private exactly as cautious, calculating, and politically flexible as they appeared to be in public. The Clinton campaign underestimated and then fretted about rival candidate Bernie Sanders, worried about Joe Biden entering the primary race and Elizabeth Warren endorsing her opponent, plotted endlessly about managing Clinton’s image in the press, took advantage of its close ties to the Obama administration and the hierarchy of the Democratic Party, and took public positions to the left of comments Clinton herself made during private paid speeches to Wall Street firms.

 

In fairness to Clinton, the emails made public by WikiLeaks reveal little about her as a person. These were hacked from the accounts of John Podesta, her campaign chairman, and very few of them are from Clinton herself. But they do shed light on Clinton as a candidate by showing just how carefully her closest aides crafted the message she presents to the world, down to the wording of her tweets and the jokes she does—or doesn’t—choose to tell.

How you react to the emails will almost certainly depend on how you already felt about Clinton. A diehard Bernie Sanders fan who sees Clinton as a corporate Democrat driven by expedience will find confirmation in her vacillation over what kind of Wall Street reform to support, her backing of the Bowles-Simpson plan that would have cut spending on entitlement programs, and her musing in a paid speech that “you need both a public and a private position” on policy. In mentioning the dual positions, she was making a comparison to Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and the unsavory political machinations Honest Abe had to undertake to achieve ratification of the 13th Amendment.
Those who view Clinton as hopelessly liberal, craven, and corrupt will seize, as the Trump campaign has, on her stated “dream” of “a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders.” They’ll smell conspiracy when they read hints that a Clinton campaign spokesman who formerly worked for the Justice Department got a heads up on a court hearing related to the release of her State Department emails. The Trump campaign said it was evidence of “collusion” between the campaign and the Justice Department, but notice of the hearing would have been public information.

“I understand that we face phoniness charges if we ‘change’ our position now—but we face political risks this way too.”

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The most common thread in the Podesta emails, however, is that they show a political candidate being political. Not much more, and not much less. Clinton is a mainstream Democrat who admires “moderates” and pragmatism. And yes, she did move to the left to defeat an insurgent liberal opponent.

Take the example of the Keystone pipeline. It was painfully obvious that for months, Clinton avoided taking a position on the hotly-debated energy project, perhaps in the hopes that the Obama administration would decide to kill it first. The emails bolster this theory. Once she decided to publicly oppose it, her aides wavered on how to announce it and ultimately timed it so that it would take the focus off revelations about her email server.

“We are trying to find a good way to leak her opposition to the pipeline without her having to actually say it and give up her principled stand about not second-guessing the president in public,” speechwriter Dan Schwerin wrote to Cheryl Mills, a top adviser.  The emails also confirm how extensive a role political considerations played in the formulation of Clinton’s policy on financial reform. Longtime adviser Mandy Grunwald wrote that Clinton had been “leaning toward” supporting a reinstatement of Glass Steagall, the Depression-era law that was repealed under her husband’s administration. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren had already called for bringing back a modern version of the law, and Grunwald was worried about the possibility that Warren might endorse Sanders.

“I understand that we face phoniness charges if we ‘change’ our position now—but we face political risks this way too,” Grunwald wrote. Ultimately, Clinton did not back Glass Steagall and instead argued that her more targeted Wall Street plan was more workable than Sanders’—a position that, according to another email from Schwerin, represented her actual policy belief.

For the significant number of people who are fed up with typical politicians, these emails won’t do Clinton any good. But at least in the batches released so far, they don’t really contradict the campaign she’s run.

Unlike her opponents in 2016, Clinton isn’t promising a revolution, or to upend the system, or even really to change politics. She’s just pledging to do it better. People might understandably be alarmed to read emails that the U.S. intelligence community believes were hacked by Russians to influence the election. Many of them might be discouraged to see, as Clinton herself acknowledged in a paid speech, “the sausage being made.” But on the whole, they shouldn’t be surprised by what’s in them. Though anti-Clintonites on the right and left may find their suspicions about Clinton confirmed, there’s nothing in the emails that would provide them new lines of criticism—or provide new sources of worry to her allies.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/10/wikileaks-clinton-emails-podesta-sanders-trump/503711/

Related:

 (Who knows more about sharing U.S. government  secrets?)

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani ripped into President Barack Obama for attending a baseball game in Cuba yesterday afternoon instead of jumping on his plane and coming home after the Brussels attacks